5th June, 2015
Nikki and I caught the Eurostar to Paris for our romantic weekend away.
3 and a half hours later, we arrived in Paris with the sun streaming through the clouds.
Nikki and her mum did a 2 day tour of Paris the previous year and she said that it was a great way to see most of Paris over a weekend.
On the train, we were greeted by Cass, our tour leader who was really friendly and approachable.
When we pulled into Paris, we met our group (mostly over 50 years old) and set off to our hotel in Alésia. We dropped off our things and had dinner down the road. I had a roast duck dish (which would be an unexpected theme over the weekend), but it was pretty dire in both looks and taste so I didn’t even bother to take a photo. After dinner, we retired to the hotel for our beauty sleep before a day of touring the next day.
6th June, 2015
The next morning, we hopped on the tour bus and set off!
Our first stop was the Eiffel Tower and I was so happy to finally see this iconic landmark for myself!
Cass did a great job of introducing us to all of the beautiful buildings but I didn’t note any down but luckily Nikki is a self-confessed Francophile, so I just nabbed a few names from her blog – THANKS NIKKI! 😉
Within two hours, we had seen Arc De Triomphe, Grand Palais, the Seine and the Notre-Dame.
We also made a short stop to take a few snaps outside Hôtel des Invalides, a complex of buildings containing museums and monuments relating to the military history of France. It is also a hospital and retirement home for war veterans, which was the building’s original purpose.
When we got back on the coach, we were lucky enough to nab the front seats with the best views as we made our way to Versailles, which was a half hour ride from the centre of Paris.
Amid magnificently landscaped formal gardens, about 22km southwest of central Paris, this enormous and stunning palace was built in the mid-17th century during the reign of Louis XIV, also known as the Roi Soleil (Sun King). It was created to project the absolute power of the French Monarchy which was then at the height of its glory.
The palace was the kingdom’s political capital and the seat of the royal court from 1682 up until 1789 when revolutionaries massacred the palace guard. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were ultimately dragged back to Paris, where they were guillotined.
Although we wanted to check it out, we only had three hours here so we decided to ditch the huge queues and make the most of the beautiful weather by heading over to the gardens instead.
As soon as I set eyes on the gardens, I was blown away.
Everything was just so vast and perfectly pruned!
Nikki informed me that Louis XIV thought that he was a God on earth which is why Versailles’ gardens are so perfect. He wanted to show that he was more powerful than nature itself!
The section of the gardens nearest the palace, laid out between 1661 and 1700 in the formal French style, is famed for its geometrically aligned terraces, flowerbeds, tree-lined paths, ponds and fountains.
Oh and some of the hedges have opera music blaring out of them so it’s all very atmospheric!
The 400-odd statues of marble, bronze and lead were made by the most talented sculptors of the era.
The fountains are also exquisitely designed.
As our tummies began to rumble, we grabbed some takeaway pastas and pizzas for lunch and headed down to devour them down by the Grand Canal.
Very authentic, I know…but there were no traditional French cuisines on offer here.
If we had more time, we’d have had an excellent time on the pedal boats too.
At the eastern end of the Grand Canal is the Bassin d’Apollon, which was built in 1688.
Emerging from the water in the centre is Apollo’s chariot, pulled by rearing horses.
After lunch and a lovely sunbathing sesh, we needed something to help us cool down…
I couldn’t have put it better myself, so to quote Nikki:
“Our three hours there were nowhere near enough to cover the two square miles they possess in what seems to be a never-ending maze of perfectly pruned greenery, intricate sculptures and scenic lakes.”
However we didn’t fancy a pricy taxi ride back to our hotel, so we hopped back on the tour bus.
The old school Art Deco Metro stations look awesome.
We were dropped off back at Alésia to have a rest and freshen up for the evening tour.
As the sun was still shining, Nikki and decided to explore the town a little more…
… and stumbled across a few treats to satisfy Nikki’s sweet tooth 😉
After freshening up at the hotel and popping on our dresses for the evening, we headed to a local bistro for dinner.
Again, I was tempted by the duck and rightly so.
It was absolutely fall-off-the-bone delicious! Soaked and cooked in its own fat, it tasted incredible – definitely my favourite meal of the trip! 😀
The night tour began at 9pm and this time, we made a quick pit stop at Arc De Triomphe and Le Louvre to take a few snaps before popping back on the coach.
Our final destination of the night lead us to the Eiffel Tower again but we got to appreciate it all lit up at night!
Nikki and I also took a quick spin on the merry go round before the Eiffel Tower’s sparkling 10 minute light display.
I didn’t even know that this was a thing but it was magical!
Once it gets dark, the show repeats itself every hour on the hour, so we’d definitely recommend it 😉
Thanks for a wonderful first day and glorious weather, Paris! ❤
Stay tuned for Day 2!